Tens of thousand visit Rhode Island each year. Many come in summer to enjoy the state's many excellent beaches, but Providence and Newport draw visitors year round.
Commerce RI, the state's main economic development organization, supports the state's tourism industry with their Visit Rhode Island website (not to be confused with this page).
The Providence/Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau is the state's largest organization dedicated exclusively to promoting tourism in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island Beaches
Rhode Island offers summer visitors many different types of beach experience, ranging from the see-and-be-seen atmosphere in 'Gansett to the vast, remote expanses south of Charlestown. Rhode Island's three most popular beaches sit on the Atlantic Ocean west of Narragansett Bay. They are:
- Scarborough Beach - a state beach in Narragansett, north of Point Judith
- Misquamicut Beach - a state beach in Westerly
- Narragansett Town Beach - a town beach in Narragansett (access restricted)
Newport's beaches lie on Aquidneck Island's southwestern corner and are commonly referred to numerically:
- First Beach (Easton's Beach) - ocean surf
- Second Beach - ocean surf
- Third Beach - cove-protected
More about Rhode Island Beaches
Rhode Island has several surfable beaches and non-beach breaks. Narragansett Town Beach is by far the best known surfing beach in Rhode Island, but not necessarily the best surf spot...or even the best beach break. Among surfing enthusiasts, the rocky and dangerous breaks at Point Judith rank among the best in the Northeast USA.
More (much more) about RI Surf Spots
Rhode Island Restaurants
For many savvy travelers, Rhode Island's exceptional culinary scene provides ample reason to visit, regardless of the season. Rhode Island, and Providence in particular, regularly rank among the best places in the US for almost any kind of food experience.
As "the Ocean State," Rhode Island hosts a great number of seafood restaurant, but the state's vast number of eateries covers every conceivable culinary style or ethnic cuisine. The state's progressive farm and food policies also make it among the best states in the nation for access to locally-grown foods.
Tourists also appreciate that Rhode Island's restaurants tend to cluster in streets and districts. Some, like Atwells Avenue in the Federal Hill neighborhood in Providence, specialize in a particular cuisine (Italian, in this case), while others, like Newport's Thames Street, run the gamut.
It is perhaps "very Rhode Island" that, even though the state hosts some of the best fine-dining restaurants in the nation along with an internationally renowned culinary school, the state's two most famous eateries are distinctly low-brow. While Olneyville New York System at least is an actual restaurant, the famed Haven Brothers trailer (the original food truck?) sets up each night on the broad sidewalks outside Providence City Hall.
More about Rhode Island Restaurants
Narragansett Bay and the nearby Atlantic Ocean offer many opportunities for visitors to experience life on the seas. Innumerable sport fishing charters target striped bass, tuna and other popular species, and anglers can also find many places for surf casting, like Fort Wetherill.
Visitors can also rent or charter boats for sailing adventures. While many consider sailing an activity only for the wealthy, organizations like the Community Boating Center in Providence make it accessible to all.
Somewhat less glamorous, kayaking has become a popular way for people to experience the open water. Narrow River (Pettaquamscutt Cove) in Narragansett provides the full spectrum of salt water kayaking: a large, intricate, inland estuary; a short, easily-navigable river and true ocean surf, where the river enters directly into the Atlantic Ocean just north of Narragansett Town Beach.
Finally, the truly intrepid visitor that partake in the uniquely satisfying experience of clamming. With just a rake and a bucket, an hour's worth of digging into the muck of low tide can yield enough of Rhode Island's famous quohogs to feed a family and then some. No word of a lie!
Roughly ten miles south-by-southwest of Galilee, Block Island (officially New Shoreham), delivers the island experience some vacationers crave. Like other nearby island tourist destinations like Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, travelers do best when they board the ferry by bicycle, not by car.
In fact, Block Island is by far the smallest of those three island, making it the most accessible on two wheels. It is roughly 1/4 the size of Nantucket and perhaps 1/8 the size of the Vineyard.
Ferries to Block Island depart Newport, Galilee (a village in Narragansett) and New London, in nearby Connecticut.
More about Block Island
Providence offers many interesting and exciting attractions year-round.
In the summer season, WaterFire combines the hypnotic effect of fires burning in floating braziers anchored in the rivers with a curated soundtrack and various cultural offerings.
Some visit Providence solely to enjoy the diverse and extensive restaurant offerings.
Providence nightlife also attracts visitors.
More reasons to Visit Providence
Newport is best known for the many mansions that dot the cliffs above Easton Bay. Because the city was originally much larger and more influential than Providence, it also hosts many of Rhode Island's oldest historical sites, including the oldest synagogue in the US.
Visitors and locals alike enjoy the Cliff Walk, which runs east (seaward) of the mansions above Easton's Bay. The city also hosts an annual kite festival.
With the recent surge in popularity of folk music, the annual Newport Folk Festival has returned to prominence as one of the country's major summer music festivals.
More reasons to Visit Newport